Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jets' Offseason Priorities

Before we address the priorities let's take a look at how the Jets will look in terms of free agents and draft picks. The following players will be unrestricted free agents: James Dearth (LS), Wayne Hunter (OL), Tony Richardson (FB), Jay Feely (K), Marques Douglas (DE), Howard Green (DT), Larry Izzo (LB), Ben Hartsock (TE), and Ryan Fowler (LB). The following players will be restricted free agents: Kellen Clemens (QB), Eric Smith (S), Brad Smith (WR), Leon Washington (RB/KR), Drew Coleman (CB), Robert Turner (OL), James Ihedigbo (DB), Marques Murrell (LB), David Clowney (WR), and Braylon Edwards (WR).

The Jets' 1st and 6th picks are secure. The Jets' 7th round pick is going to Detriot for Kevin O'Connell, but they will receive a 7th round pick from Green Bay for Brett Favre. The Jets 3rd and 5th round picks are going to Cleveland for Braylon Edwards (the 3rd round pick could escalate to a 2nd round pick depending on Edwards' performance). The Jets 4th round picks could go to the Eagles if they do not cut Lito Sheppard; additionally, it can escalate to a 2nd round pick depending on Sheppard's playing time. In all likelihood, the Jets will finish the regular season with a 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 7th round picks.

The first question Mike Tannenbaum will have to address is what he will do with Lito Sheppard. Sheppard has not played up to the magnitude of his Eagles days, but he is still worthy of a fourth round  pick. Another factor in the Sheppard dilemma is that he will be due a 10 million dollar bonus if the Jets keep him. The bonus certainly makes him quite unappealing. I'd expect him to cut Sheppard so that the Jets end up with five picks in the 2010 Draft.

The second question will be what he does with key free agents. The specific names here are Marques Douglas, Braylon Edwards, Tony Richardson, Eric Smith, and Leon Washington.
- Douglas has been fair in keeping the Jets run defense on par with others around the league after Kris Jenkins fell to injury. Julius Peppers will be back on the market after having the franchise tag placed on him last year. Expect the Jets to pursue Peppers and fall back on Douglas if they are unsuccessful with Peppers.
- The Braylon Edwards scenario is a bit of a puzzle. Most coaches have difficult putting faith in a receiver who drops so many passes. There isn't much to say about a player's whose biggest flaw (catching) is the foremost requirement of his duty. Edwards' situation is further plagued by the availability of reliable Wide Receivers headed to free agency and in the upcoming draft class.
- If Richardson returns then expect him to be a Jet but that is a big IF considering he is 37 and in is 15th season in the NFL.
- Eric Smith has given Kerry Rhodes a run for position showing Smith's usefulness as a backup, possible starter, and motivator for Rhodes. Expect him to resign at a fair price.
- Leon Washington's return will be completely dependent on the market. The Jets will not go to excessive lengths to keep Washington with capable backs in Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene returning next year. Being a fan-favorite, most would like to see him return (especially on special teams), but the Jets will have bigger holes to fill in the offseason before focusing on a third RB.

The third question is what will be the holes and how will they be addressed.

1) Fullback will be the 1st priority depending on whether or not Richardson returns. Whether he retires or not it would be nice to have some security behind him and provide a learning curve for a young FB. The Jets could give Dorin Dickerson (Pittsburgh), Cory Jackson (Maryland), or William Rose (Florida Atlantic) a look in one of the last two rounds. The Jets should also consider looking at Penn St.'s big Tight-End Mickey Shuler who is an excellent blocker. He could be converted nicely into a FB with the threat of catching a pass out of the backfield and still be utilized as a blocking TE. Shuler is a bit big a 6'4" but Mike Sellers is a Pro-Bowl FB at 6'3".

2) In addition to Braylon Edwards, David Clowney, and Brad Smith, other key WRs including Miles Austin, Steve Breaston, Antonio Bryant, Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Lance Moore, Terrell Owens, and Kevin Walter will be available. The Jets will also have plenty of options in the first two rounds of the Draft: Arrelious Benn, Dez Bryant, Eric Decker, Marshawn Gilliard, Brandon LaFell, Golden Tate, and Damian Williams. There will also be a few fourth round opportunities with Dezmon Briscose, Demaryius Thomas, and Mike Williams.

3) With Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins, the Jets will be looking for a final Defensive End who can solidify the line and bring a spell of youth. Julius Peppers would be a great addition, but with such high expectations the Jets are going to need a few backup plans. Marcus Spears could be a nice young addition (since the Cowboys have another young end in Stephen Bowen behind him). Also if Greg Hardy or Derrick Morgan falls to the Jets then either will be a viable option in the 1st round of the draft.

4) If GM Mike Tannenbaum lets Lito Sheppard walk then the Jets will be in search of a corner to play on the opposite side of Revis. Everyone knows Dwight Lowry is a solid nickel corner, so the Jets will be looking a for a second corner specifically. Tramon Williams will be a good option since Green Bay already has Charles Woodson and Al Harris. Daunta Robinson also had an uneasy offseason with the Houston Texans last year; the situation ended with the Texans placing the franchise tag on him. Robinson would be a great option but may be too expensive for the Jets. The Jets could also have a shot at Joe Haden of Florida in the draft depending on how the rest of the season fairs. The Jets are still in the playoff hunt as they are within one game of a wild-card spot and the division lead; however, both races will be extremely tight. Both winnable and challenging games remain on the schedule which could lead the Jets to winning season, but may leave them short of the playoffs; thus, translating into what could be no playoffs and a late pick.

5) Jay Feely will be also be a free agent this season. As of Week 13, Feely was 6th in field goals made and 8th in field goal percentage. Feely had not missed a field goal and matched his career long of 55. The kicking position should not be a concern but the contemporary NFL kicker position has become a rotating door, so you do not know who will walk in next.

Now a basic recap: Hopefully one of Joe Haden, Greg Hardy, or Derrick Morgan falls to the Jets in the first round. The Jets pursue the opposite in free agency which they did not draft in the first round (sign DE if they draft Haden or sign a CB if they draft Hardy or Morgan). The Jets let Edwards and Sheppard walk. They draft WRs in the 2nd and 4th rounds; I suggest Mardy Gilliard - who is a solid deep threat option and a good returner in case the Jets cannot retain Washington - in the 2nd round and Demaryius Thomas in the 4th. The Jets should consider a fullback in one of the final two rounds. The Jets management will also be looking to add some young depth on both offensive and defensive lines.

No comments:

Post a Comment